Alejandro Saravia, Chef of CHE & Pastuso, is our Man Made ambassador. Known for introducing Peruvian’s bold and flavoursome cuisine to Australia and sharing his passion for Latin American cuisine, we interviewed Alejandro to discover his trade secrets in perfecting perfect Peruvian dish.
Tell us how you started your career as a chef?
I have been exposed to good food from a very early age being the oldest grand child, helping my grandmother in the kitchen peeling broad beans or peas and then cooking with her. Being in her kitchen was always like an adventure, starting early in the morning with a trip to the local market to buy fresh ingredients. My grandmother has managed to establish a great relationship with most of the market vendors so it was an amazing place to learn how to choose your ingredients and when was the best time to source them.
Following my grandmother’s passion for good food and hospitality I decided to study to be a chef at Le cordon Bleu in Lima which, at that time, was the only Le cordon bleu school in South America. I learned a more professional and structured approach to cooking but maintained my passion and love for this career.
You obviously have a passion for South American cuisine, can you tell us about the two venues Pastuso and CHE & what guests can expect when visiting?
Coming from Peru, the gastronomical capital of South America its hard not to be passionate about the diversity and food culture that all countries in South American bring to the table.
Pastuso is a Peruvian restaurant that showcases Peru’s three regions. The coast of Peru is reflected in our ceviche bar bringing the freshness and perfect balance of a Peruvian staple ceviche. The Andean sierras are reflected in our open grill and smoker (specially custom made for us) with that delicious char and smoky flavours on our aged, grilled and slow cook meats, and finally the lust and cheekiness of the Amazon jungle is reflected in our Pisco bar that works with tropical flavours and Peruvian Pisco as our base spirit.
CHE on the other hand is our charcoal chicken shop that brings back the nostalgia of suburban chicken shops, but with a premium Latin American twist. The charcoal chicken is marinated with Peruvian chilli and dark beer for 48 hours and then cooked in the venue’s custom-made charcoal smoker/grill. Expect a fun, laid back atmosphere while enjoying this casual and mouthwatering offering with big and bold flavours.
Can you tell us a little bit about your ambassador role for South Gippsland and what is involved for you in that?
My Gippsland adventure started a few years ago when I met Paul Crock from Gippsland Natural Beef which introduced me to this amazing Victorian region. Since then my approach and quest to my personal cuisine has been to focus on rescuing what is basic and naturally beautiful of each ingredient.
Working directly with local farmers and producers to help them start an effective channel of communications with chef and restauranteurs, has been my main mission during this journey. It’s important that both sides of the food chain understand each other and start working together to improve the relationship between chefs and farmers.
What advice do you have for the average guy at home wanting to take his own cooking up a notch?
Read the recipe first and do not improvise!!!!!! LOL I know it’s simple but no one reads the recipes before they start getting their hands dirty. It’s important to understand the recipe requirement and the ingredients that you will be using.
Passion is the key to a great cooking experience (not by increasing the heat of the oven or burner). Remember that passions is a virtue.
Enjoy the process of cooking from chasing a recipe, going to the market to choose your ingredients and finally crack open a bottle of red or a beer and enjoy the ride. Start from the beginning to get excited about molecular cuisine or modern techniques before nailing the basics of a delicious roast or stew.
To find out more about Alejandro and his venues visit www.che.melbourne and his Instagram account @chemelbourne.
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